COVID-19 has Changed the Shopify Partner Ecosystem.

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The coronavirus outbreak has changed the world as we know it. But for the Shopify ecosystem, its implications may be long-lasting…

With the coronavirus crisis forcing people to change their shopping habits, e-commerce service and product providers are having to adapt the way they work, and fast.

But with the situation changing rapidly every day, it can be a challenge to know what’s best for your business and when is the right time to implement different processes.

Some companies within the Shopify ecosystem are having to find new ways to communicate with clients, while others have had to shift their entire team from being office-based to working remotely.

To help you navigate these uncertain times, we’ll take a look at the ways Covid-19 has changed the ecosystem for Shopify Partners, and suggest some ways to help you adapt and feel supported.

How Has Day-to-Day Life Changed?

An E-commerce Sales Boom

As the majority of brick-and-mortar shops have been forced to close, e-commerce has suddenly become essential – both for merchants that already have an online store, and those who are totally new to it. 

Kelly Vaughn at The Taproom has developed an initiative called Offline2On to help offline-only businesses get online – fast. 

It means there’s never been a more important time for platforms like Shopify. In fact, Shopify’s CTO Jean-Michel Lemieux has revealed that the platform is handling Black Friday level traffic every day.

In March there was a 74% growth in average transaction volumes for online retailers compared with the same period last year, according to data from ACI Worldwide. The figures show that the rise has been especially large for those who sell products related to the home – online transaction volumes increased by 97% for home products and furnishings, 136% for DIY products and 163% for garden essentials.

Sadly, some sectors such as clothing apparel have suffered as uncertainty and job insecurity have changed people’s spending priorities. A handful of e-commerce brands including Stitch Fix and ThirdLove saw a weekly average drop of 7% in sales from March 2 to March 22, according to Edison Trends.

It’s left some companies having to make the difficult decision to furlough staff and scale back on advertising until the situation begins to stabilise. 

Remote Working is the ‘New Normal’

Coronavirus Pandemic alters life as we know it
Coronavirus Pandemic alters life as we know it… Unsplash

Many key workers, including those who help online stores to continue operating such as manufacturers and distributors, are still going out to work to keep the world’s economies running.

Those who are able to do their jobs from home are now faced with new challenges.

Luckily, for e-commerce teams, there’s the technology to be able to work remotely. Many – including the Kollectify team – have been operating this way for a while. But for others, it’s a whole new ball game.

With face-to-face meetings out of the question, staff are trying out new ways to communicate – both with their colleagues, and their clients. 

Shauna at Operate Remote has been putting out some very useful content around adapting to a remote working environment.

Video conferencing tools such as Zoom and Google Hangouts have become more mainstream and are even being used for virtual ‘after-work drinks’, as well as client calls. And some events, webinars and group workshops that were cancelled due to the outbreak are now being held via the likes of Zoom.

Shopify is currently seeking partners to host live webinars that offer value to merchants during the crisis. Shopify Partners can offer to host webinars in Shopify Compass on areas including financial planning and marketing strategies for COVID-19. Apply here by 1 May. 

To save long email chains or messages being missed, lots of teams are also adapting their project management processes and implementing software that might be new to some. At Kollectify we love Trello for its versatility –but there are plenty of other options out there such as Asana and Base Camp.

Being remote also makes networking more difficult but as everyone is in the same boat, online events such as virtual Shopify Meetups are available.

How Shopify is Supporting Partners

In times of crisis, it’s always good to feel like you’re being supported –especially by the platform you’ve built your business around.

Shopify has been working to support its partners throughout the Coronavirus outbreak with resources, updated tools, and guides. 

To take some of the pressure off, Shopify has paused the Partner activity requirement as of 26 March for the foreseeable future, and will give 30 days’ notice before it resumes.

Shopify has also postponed its next API version update until 1 July, giving partners more time to focus on helping merchants during these uncertain times.

And since Shopify Unite had to be cancelled this year due to COVID-19, they’ve come up with a new way for Partners to find out what’s happening with the platform, with Shopify Partner Town Hall. Shopify will gather its partner and developer community at this virtual meeting once a month, to share advice on how to support merchants at this time.

All of Shopify’s most up-to-date resources are available from its COVID-19 hub, plus there are other ways you can connect with the rest of the Shopify Partner community and support each other. Check out the Shopify Partners Slack channel, Facebook group and Twitter page. 

Or go the extra mile and join The Partner League, full of committed Shopify Partners. It’s a paid Slack group, meaning you’ll benefit from high-quality connections (see you in there)!

Support for Shopify App Companies

Shopify has launched a challenge specifically for Shopify App companies. If you have an idea for an app to help support merchants during these difficult times, consider entering the challenge and be in with the chance of winning extra support to take your app to market.

Shopify will help winners grow their app businesses by:

  • Providing winning apps a share of a $100,000 USD prize pool, to a max of $20,000 USD per app
  • Awarding $1,000 USD in ad credits for the Shopify App Store, and a feature on the App Store
  • Granting access to mentorship from the Shopify product and engineering team

Registration is open until 10 May, so get those creative juices flowing and help merchants when they need it most. 

Optimise your business

While these are uncertain times, you may be asking yourself what more you could be doing to get the most out of your Shopify focused business. The most important thing is to remain positive and help merchants wherever you can.

Keep up your online presence –– there are more merchants online than ever before and you could have something they really need. 

Consider how you can go the extra mile to help store owners during the current climate. Can you offer content specific to their e-commerce sector? An extended free trial? 

If you need a hand with content ideas to provide real value to merchants during this time, we’re here to help

Stay safe.

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